Ah yes. Mysterious Girlfriend X. When I heard that the manga was getting an anime adaption, I looked forward to seeing other people's reactions to the synopsis almost as much as the show itself. Perhaps a fair few WTFs amongst viewers who've never read the manga?
The story is simple. Boy encounters transfer girl. Boy deliberately tastes girl's drool on a desk. Boy falls in love with girl after that. Um, yeah.
The drool. If there's anything in this series that would turn off those who watch it, it'll obviously be the various saliva-swapping scenes. Personally, I don't think it's that bad. If it helps, think of it as an inevitable aspect of French kissing except without any lips touching. Nor tongues. Nor sensation. Well maybe sensation, in the form of the recipient of the drool experiencing the other's mood or feelings. Perhaps not as romantic though. But it's mostly down to individual tolerance levels for the things you find okay in anime; the same with fanservice, blood and gore, hentai, etc.
The series closely explores the slow-building but charming relationship between the main characters, inside and outside of high school. It's quite different to the romances found in other anime. After all, who shows affection by ripping up a photo of a previous crush as opposed to holding hands or kissing to start a relationship? And that's just one of many examples. Although it rarely feels out of place, there is some ecchi and fanservice present.
Saying that Mikoto Urabe is weird would be a huge understatement. At times in her relationship she just seems like a normal shy and compassionate girl underneath a cold demeanour, but her hobbies and certain superhuman abilities makes her more than that. She's a compelling character to watch however, and her various quirks (Fits of laughter? Scissors?!) are what makes the anime so addictive, along with her bond to Akira Tsubaki. Tsubaki is a relatively normal character, despite his attraction to Urabe's drool, and it's fun to see him cope with being the boyfriend of such a strange person and the requirements that come with the role; romancing Urabe is much harder than he thinks. The anime mainly focuses on the odd couple so important side characters are limited, but two of their classmates, Kouhei Ueno and Ayuko Oka, provide some extra entertainment; the playful and wild Oka has a particularly big influence in how the relationship develops between Urabe and Tsubaki.
The art style of Mysterious Girlfriend X is excellent and rather interesting. It goes for an older style of animation, and reminds me of anime that were made a decade or two ago, back when clichés were still original ideas. Backgrounds are also quite nice, especially parts of the school like the classroom and gardens as well as the surrounding town. However, I'm still undecided as to whether I like the character models retained from the manga, which are sharp and detailed but make the 17-year old students look like they're in middle school rather than high school.
The series makes use of a variety of background music that is sombre and mysterious, but also some which makes you think of a circus, and this works well with Urabe's character and the strangeness of the show itself. A few soothing melodies are thrown into the mix too. The OP is a catchy and upbeat song that fits with the high school setting, while the ED is also good and has a nice tune. The voice acting is decent all around; the voice actress for the role of Urabe is a newcomer but she's done an especially good job.
Overall Mysterious Girlfriend X, or Nazo no Kanojo X, is about a bizarre high school romance with unique additions in the form of drool with multiple and mysterious effects, excessive nose-bleeding and a very weird yet enjoyable character in Mikoto Urabe. This anime is sure to captivate some viewers while alienating others but like the manga, it does what it sets out to do with a passing grade. And that is to provide us with an entry in the genre that feels fun and more than just a little different. Assuming it doesn't make its audience sick to the stomach first.